Lifestyle Medicine. Do we Know what is that?
When was the last time you went to the doctor?
Did your doctor ask you about your daily habits such as what you eat,
how much you exercise, or whether you smoke or drink?
Sadly, most doctors do not ask these vital questions.
However conventional medicine is rooted in the disease model:
identify the disease and treat with the appropriate pharmaceuticals.
Of course, in some cases drugs, surgeries or other procedures are necessary and
we are incredibly lucky to live in a world where many of us can access these life-saving resources.
However, did you know that most diseases could be prevented in the first place through healthy habits?
To be precise, according to the World Health Organization 80% of heart disease,
80% of type 2 diabetes and 40% of all cancers need not exist if people were empowered to follow healthy lifestyles.
Similarly this is powerful information and all the more important in 2021 when the world is faced with viral pandemics.
It is well known that people who suffer from a chronic disease,
such as heart disease or diabetes, are more susceptible to COVID-19
and have more complications.
Lifestyle Medicine Defined
Firstly lifestyle Medicine is a relatively new area of medicine that uses evidence-based lifestyle interventions to prevent, treat and often reverse chronic disease.
Listed below are the six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine and some key points about each.
- Healthful eating
- Healthy eating means a predominantly plant-based diet consisting of whole,
- plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and nuts & seeds.
- Physical activity
- Exercise must be an integral and daily part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Stress management
- Identifying stress and learning coping strategies are key to well-being
- The avoidance of risky substances
- The dangers of addictive substances,
- such as tobacco and alcohol, are well documented and these need to be eliminated and/or
- minimized as much as possible.
- Quality sleep
- Sleep or “Vitamin S” is crucial for optimal immune function and overall health.
- Meaningful relationships
- Social connectedness is vital for emotional resiliency.
All of these lifestyle habits are inter-connected much like the pieces of a puzzle
Is there Lifestyle Medicine in Turkey?
Although Lifestyle Medicine is spreading throughout the world,
to my knowledge there is not yet a Lifestyle Medicine Association in Turkey.
This is disappointing given the immense potential of Lifestyle Medicine to avert unnecessary suffering.
At the same time, it represents a golden opportunity for Turkish doctors
and/or medical associations to be leaders in this field.
Call to action
In conclusion; As a Registered Dietitian myself,
I appeal to the Turkish medical community to research
Lifestyle Medicine and make it accessible to the Turkish population.
For the average citizen who wants to learn more about that